Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

Young farmers blast Smith

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

MORE THAN 96pc of young farmers feel that Minister for Agriculture Brendan Smith has not done enough to support them, a Macra na Feirme survey has revealed.

Suspension of installation aid and the early retirement scheme are believed to be the major cause of the overwhelming backlash against Minister Smith.

Macra president Michael Gowing said young farmers were dissatisfied with the Minister for Agriculture, his department and the Government's decision to suspend a scheme that was within budget and an important policy tool for restructuring agriculture.

The online Macra survey found that just 2.4pc of young farmers believe that the minister has done enough for them.

"The reality is that the Department of Agriculture needs to ensure that young, highly educated and skilled young people see agriculture as an attractive, rewarding and financially viable career option.

"Otherwise, if the Government doesn't act soon, there won't be any young dynamic primary producers to make the Food Harvest 2020 report a reality," he warned.


Despite being deeply dissatisfied with some policy decisions, the majority of young farmers surveyed were positive about the future.

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More than 85pc of those surveyed described the future of agriculture as "very good" (29.2pc) or "good" (56.2pc). Some 10.1pc felt the future of agriculture was "not good", while there were 4.5pc in the "don't know" category.

Close to 80pc of young farmers said the Food Harvest 2020 report was either "very relevant" (20.5pc) or "relevant" (58pc) but some 21.6pc of those surveyed said the report was "not relevant".

When asked about plans for expansion, the majority of farmers said that they planned to remain at the same level of production or expand in the coming years. Of the 66 beef farmers surveyed, more than half (36) planned to expand, while 20 planned to remain the same and 10 farmers planned to decrease production.

Out of 36 dairy farmers, 30 planned to increase production, while four planned to maintain production and two planned to decrease.

Almost two-thirds (21) of the 36 tillage farmers surveyed planned to increase production, while 12 farmers said they would maintain current levels and three planned to reduce output.

Ten sheep farmers out of 36 polled said they would maintain current levels, while 15 opted to expand and four planned to reduce output.

The annual Macra survey was based on 124 respondents who completed the survey online.

Irish Independent